Petaluma High School's first varsity football win of the season was sweet, but it wasn't easy.
Petaluma held off Piner, 13-12, Friday night at Durst Field in the Sonoma County League opener for both teams. Coming off four straight losses during a very difficult pre-league schedule the win was whole-heartedly welcomed by the Trojan players, coaches and fans. But it wasn't easily obtained.
The outcome wasn't decided until a final Piner pass fell incomplete from midfield as the last seconds blinked off the clock.
Petaluma drove 36 yards in the first quarter following a fumble recovery by Ricky DeCarli to score on an 8-yard run by Nikko Respeto behind blocks from Zac Overset and Max Krieg.
Vince Raffaelli booted what would be a vital extra point.
Piner scored midway through the third period on a three-yard pass connection between quarterback Noel Hernandez and Dominic Wilson, but an excessive celebration flag moved the Prospectors all the way back to the 25 yard line for the PAT try, and game-long Trojan standout Teddy Scranton blocked the boot attempt, leaving the Trojans in front, 7-6.
A playbook-perfect 16-yard fade pass from Petaluma quarterback Patrick Bailey to a leaping Eric Hunsicker provided the Trojans with a second touchdown late in the third quarter, but Rafaelli's PAT attempt was blocked and Petaluma's lead was only 13-6.
Piner got close with a 9-yard touchdown pass connection between Hernandez and Natu Hezchias just six minutes from the end.
The Prospectors, down, 13-12, tried for a two-point conversion, but the ball was bobbled and the omnipresent Scranton plopped on it to preserve a 13-12 Trojan lead.
Three plays and a booming punt by Sam Spurling later, and the Prospectors started back up field from their 15-yard line. They got as far as midfield before the Petaluma defense could stop the drive, with Scranton providing a big sack of Hernandez to help finally put Piner away and put Petaluma in the win column.